Perfect opened my eyes to the phenomenon of “leap seconds,” which are periodically added to coordinated uniform time to account for minute fluctuations in the earth’s rotation. When enough milliseconds of variation accumulate– which typically only happens every few years– a one second addition to the clock is required to maintain the integrity of our time keeping system. Rachel Joyce’s novel takes place in 1972, the only year so far in which two seconds were needed. For 11-year-old Byron Hemmings, those two seconds are a confounding anomaly that will alter the course of his life.
Following young Byron as he tries to make sense of an event that has occurred– he believes– because of the two second expansion of time, and as he tries to shelter his family from its consequences, is heart wrenching. Layered atop is a pervasive sense of foreboding that, for Byron, there is worse yet to come.
I love books with 10- to 13- year old protagonists– those years are so vital in shaping the teen, and later the adult, that one will become. Byron’s tale is satisfyingly poignant, and though it is also tinged with tragedy, it is ultimately uplifting.